Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Leadership and followership

4.4 Case study

A well-documented case study is that of online shoe retailer Zappos, which recently removed its management hierarchy and introduced the holacracy model. Their key focus was on transparency and adaptability – providing tools to help staff identify the work that needed doing, and giving staff the ability to pitch for work that interested them rather than work that was associated with an out-of-date job description.

In a Harvard Business Review IdeaCast, Bernstein and Bunch (2016) outline the significant work involved in retraining staff and putting in place the technology and structures to support the new approach. A key point is that this isn’t a ‘leaderless’ environment – leadership or management is distributed throughout the organisation.

This approach isn’t for everyone – it was widely reported that 50 employees resigned a short time after implementation, although that may have been due to poor change management. It is also what the company describes as a ‘long-game’ and the jury is still out as to whether the company will become more productive and adaptable to change as a result.

Activity 5 What do you predict?

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

1. Find an article, blog or paper about the future of business leadership that captures your imagination and summarise its contents in the box below.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

2. Next, answer these questions:

a) How does the approach you’ve summarised compare with leadership that you’ve experienced/observed, or even your own leadership style?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

b) Is it an approach that you feel could be effective in your workplace?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Cutting edge approaches like the one introduced by Zappos are still relatively unusual, and their effectiveness has yet to be measured. While a radical change may be unlikely to happen in your organisation, there may be elements of these new approaches that could inform small changes.

Use your leadership journal to identify areas that interest you and experiment with ideas.

LF_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371